How Seattle Residents Won a Fix for the City’s Most Dangerous Street

"Crosswalk protests" helped make the case for a safer Rainier Avenue. Photo: Seattle Bike Blog
“Crosswalk protests” helped make the case for a safer Rainier Avenue. Photo: Seattle Bike Blog

Sometimes calling your city council person or circulating a petition isn’t enough. Here’s an inspiring story about Seattle residents who got creative to highlight their fight for a safer street. Phyllis Porter and Gordon Padelford at Seattle Bike Blog explain Seattle’s Rainier Avenue was badly in need of intervention:

With a crash every day on average, 7 businesses hit in the past year, and 630 injuries over the last three years, something had to be done. Business, community groups, and residents had had enough.

Last year the community came together to demand Rainier Ave S be made safer. For instance, a group calling themselves the Rainier Road Diet Supporters held a number of crosswalk protests.

The community group Rainier Valley Greenways rallied around a campaign called Safety Over Speeding to bring more attention to the problem. We collected signatures and photo petitions, created a Get Well Soon Rainier Ave Card for people to sign, posted flyers with the number of crashes next to dangerous intersections, and hosted a big crosswalk protest and rally.

And it worked:

The Department of Transportation responded to the community and overwhelming data by doing a safety corridor “pilot” between S Alaska St and S Kenny St, and planned to study an expansion of it for 2016. The pilot included adding a center turn lane to reduce turning collisions, adding bus priority to keep the popular route 7 on time, and improving crosswalks and signals for people walking.

The results are in and they are great! In the part that got improvements, aggressive speeding (over 40 MPH) is down 95%, injuries involving people walking and biking are down 41%, the fear of bus delays never materialized (the #7 bus has not been slowed down), traffic still flows, and it is now much more safe and comfortable to be in Columbia City and Hillman City. King 5 did a piece on the results and interviewed the owner of Lottie’s Lounge who said “The road diet has really improved the quality of life. The benefits far outweigh the downside.”

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy says a big win for Cleveland trails in the latest round of TIGER grants is part of a larger trend that is making cities safer and better connected. Streets.mn says divisions within the cycling community are harmful to each group’s shared interests. And Urban Indy shares a poll showing Indianapolis-area voters support plans to dramatically expand regional transit.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Car Storage for a Few Trumps Safe Streets for All in San Diego

|
A major street safety campaign in San Diego is running up against the fierce territorial instinct that only on-street car parking can instill. After a two-year public process, a plan to create safe biking and walking access to Hillcrest and other neighborhoods reached a local advisory group called Uptown Planners. The plan calls for adding […]

Vote for the Best Urban Street Transformation of 2015

|
It’s almost time to say goodbye to 2015, which means we’re about to hand out Streetsies to recognize achievements for walking, biking, and transit in American cities this year. Earlier this month we asked readers for nominations for the Best Urban Street Transformation of the year, and here are the standouts from your submissions. It’s a great batch and […]

Get Real — Colorful Crosswalks Aren’t Endangering Pedestrians

|
In the summer of 2014, residents of Tower Grove in St. Louis painted crosswalks with patterns like a fleur-de-lis to add some neighborhood character. Now city officials say the crosswalks should fade away, citing safety concerns. The order comes from new bike and pedestrian coordinator Jamie Wilson, who cites a 2011 recommendation from the Federal Highway Administration. Wilson told The Post Dispatch he […]

Chicago, Seattle Mayors Spar Over Bike Lanes, Tech Workers

|
Nothing like a little friendly competition between mayors. It seems a feud of sorts has developed between Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn over who can build the best bike lanes. At a speech in December marking the opening of the Dearborn Street protected bike lanes, Emanuel boasted that Chicago was going […]